Dhaka WASA has spent Tk 450 million over the last 15 months to prevent water logging in the capital following heavy rainfall, according to official records.
Dhaka, however, was waterlogged in just one and a quarter hours of rain on Tuesday afternoon. Water remained accumulated on the road even in front of WASA building and the surrounding areas for six hours since 1:30pm to 7:30pm.
WASA has spent a total of Tk 5.23 billion in ten years (July 2009 to September 2019).
The organisation has spent Tk 3.38 billion for three pump stations to facilitate the drainage system, but the problems have simply worsened.
Most areas of the capital were inundated in 47 millimeters of rain on Tuesday afternoon.
WASA refuses to shoulder the responsibility alone. On condition of anonymity, a WASA official said the rain water flows through the drains of the two Dhaka city corporations and goes on to different canals. It is the responsibility of the city corporations to clear the drains, the officials added.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) additional chief engineer Asaduzzaman said water is getting stuck as the drainage capacity of WASA pumps are weak.
There are three pump stations at Rampura, Kalyanpur and Gopibagh. Besides, Bangladesh Water Development Board has a pump station at Chatbari area of Goran.
These stations work to carry the water to the canals and rivers.
City corporation engineers said the number and capacity of the pumps are adequate.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) professor Mujibur Rahman said the funds are not being spent in a proper planned mannerto resolve the water logging.
He said the drains have to be cleared so that the rain water can pass on to the river. The rivers around the capital also need to be dredged, Mujibur added.
According to the Flood Action Plan of the capital, water bodies should constitute 12 per cent of the capital city's area.
But WASA officials said water bodies cover only two per cent and this is one of the reasons that water does recede fast.
Dhaka WASA has 385 km of deep drains, 10 km of box culverts and 80 km of canals.
According to the WASA drainage department, some Tk 400 million was spent for dredging and clearing 19 canals out of 26.
Some 8.80 km of box culverts and 280 kms of deep drains were cleared.
Some 1300 catchpits were established to direct rain water to deep drains.
This correspondent visited Debdholai canal and Sutikhola canal adjacent to Jatrabari on 20 September. Both the canals were filled with garbage. It was the same in Kalshi canal of Mirpur. Begunbari canal in Rampura remains filled with garbage throughout the year.
Speaking to Prothom Alo recently, WASA managing director Taksim A Khan said solid garbage causes water logging.
Solid garbage of the city corporations makes the canals and deep ditches unclean, he said adding it is the duty of city corporation to manage the solid garbage.
There are over 2,000 km of ditches in the two city corporations. Of them, there are about 1200 km of underground pipes for drainage of water. DSCC owns 500 km and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) the rest. Two city corporations have about 18 km of surface ditches. There are about 4.5 kms of box culverts. Underground pipelines of the city corporations are connected to deep drains of WASA.
Alongside WASA, the two city corporations have also spent funds on the drainage system. Two city corporations have spent Tk 16.86 billion to make deep drains for the drainage system over the last ten years.
DSCC has spent Tk 6.73 billion and DNCC has spent Tk 4.40 billion, according to records of different projects and officials.
WASA engineers think the drainage system is being hampered as these deep drains are blocked. They said this is the main reason that water does not recede fast if it rains.
DSCC mayor Sayeed Khokon said WASA is mainly responsible to remove rain water.
The city corporation also works for the development of the drainage system of the city so that the water logging is not prolonged.
He said the city corporation has resolved the water logging at Shantinagar.
Despite such claims of the mayor, water remained for about one hour at Shantinagar on Tuesday afternoon. There was knee-deep water in Rajarbagh, Naya Paltan, Fakirapool and Bijoynagar till the evening.
DSCC spent Tk 700 million in three phases to maintain the drainage system in Shantinagar and surrounding areas.
City analyst and architect Mobasher Hossain said drains have to be cleared regularly throughout the year. It is necessary to monitor WASA and city corporations as to what they are doing to resolve the water logging.
The city dwellers won’t be freed of water logging unless the two organisations work in coordination.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.